© awareNet 2011
Kasumuni, L. (2011) Unleashing web 2.0 for African Learning, eLearning Africa News Portal, June 8
The e-Learning Africa conference goes from strength to strength, emphasising the huge interest in e-learning in Africa. A total of 1,702 participants from more than 90 countries from Africa and beyond convened at the 6th eLearning Africa conference. This year, the conference was hosted by the Government of Tanzania. During the event in Dar es Salaam, 322 speakers from 57 countries shared best practices and ideas in 65 parallel sessions. Additionally, 25 ministers and deputy ministers and more than 50 high-level government officials from 21 countries throughout Africa attended the conference to discuss the future role of ICTs in African education. An exhibition with 52 exhibitors from 16 countries accompanied the conference, showcasing innovative technologies and educational resources.
In one of the most interesting sessions, African universities and other learning institutions were challenged to adopt Web 2.0 technologies and use social media for teaching.
Chief Executive of eKhaya ICT of South Africa, Ronald Wertlen, said that the open source software platform and the social network awareNet had tremendously improved education bringing social media to some of the poorest schools in South Africa, allowing offline use and making use of the Internet at times when the cost is reduced. Wertlen said that awareNet was addressing the question of personal self-worth in an innovative digital manner: “Many young black Africans grow up in a culture where personal self-respect is squashed by gross disrespect for human life in the very context of their environment. Sub-standard services in terms of health, policing, education etc. and subsequent high mortality rates, as well as dismantled cultural traditions, teach youths that intrinsic motivation is worthless since the self itself is worthless. As against that, awareNet teaches youths that their voice can be heard and that there is someone listening. “
The awareNet site is well worth a visit, with some fascinating youth-led projects and many interesting blogs.